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North America - Ethnographic Collections

Approximately half of the Museum's ethnographic collection comprises items representing historic native cultures of North America. The Native American collection includes several thousand items from Arctic, Southwestern, Plains, Northwest Coast, and Eastern Woodlands groups. Many of these Native American materials are on display in the Museum's exhibit hall.


One of the Museum's earliest donations is a small collection of Inuit (Eskimo) clothing and implements donated in 1887 by Dr. Percy Mathews of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, London. Several large assemblages of Native Alaskan items have subsequently been donated to the Museum, resulting in a sizable collection of Arctic material. Inuit items include animal-skin garments, wooden masks, and bone, ivory, and stone carvings, tools, and hunting and fishing equipment. Aleut items include birch- and cedar-bark baskets and garments made of animal intestines.

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Eastern Woodlands

Examples of Northeastern, Southeastern, and Great Lakes basketry, beadwork, apparel, dolls, and metalwork comprise the Museum's collection of Eastern Woodlands material. These materials date from the early to late 20th century and represent the work of groups such as the Iroquois, Ojibwa, Potawatomi, Cherokee, and Creek.

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Northwest Coast

Cedar-bark and plant-fiber baskets, beadwork, apparel, and carved and decorated wooden bowls, rattles, and house posts comprise the Museum's collection of Northwest Coast material. The majority of these items date to the early 20th century and represent the work of Tlingit, Kwakiutl, and Olympic Peninsula groups.

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The Museum's collection of Plains material comprises a diversity of beaded items, including bags, belts, moccasins, and other apparel. Also included are quilled items, headdresses, catlinite pipes, painted rawhide bags, arrows, dolls, feather fans, and war clubs. The majority of these materials date to the early 20th century and represent the work of groups such as the Cheyenne, Kiowa, Osage, Sioux, Omaha, and Shawnee.

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Several large collections comprise the Museum's assemblage of Southwest–Native American materials. The Barnard Collection includes Navajo textiles, Pueblo pottery, and Pima, Papago, and Chemehuevi basketry from the early and mid-20th century. Pueblo ceramics and Hopi kachina dolls, basketry, and prints comprise the Kolbe Collection of contemporary Southwestern Native American art. Other donations include a collection of Tewa guard sticks made by Jose Inez Trujillo of San Juan Pueblo in 1939; the Alexander Collection of late 19th- and early 20th-century Pima pottery, basketry, and other materials; Apache basketry; Navajo dolls; Pueblo moccasins and boots; and a Walapai cradleboard.

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fur trade items
Fur Trade Items
blanket, tobacco, rifle
19th and 20th century

20th century
Barnard and Kolbe Collections

early 20th century
Mitchell Collection

Museum of Anthropology, Mizzou North, Suite 2002, 115 Business Loop 70 W, Columbia, MO 65211-8350

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